Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation dba Saving Sight
10100 N. Ambassador Dr.
Suite 200
Kansas City MO 64153-2313


Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (800) 753-2265
Mission Statement
We change lives by saving sight. Saving Sight strives to be the global partnership model for how eye banking and charitable vision services can most effectively serve people and communities. 
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Tony Bavuso
Board Chair PDG Stuart Payne
Board Chair Company Affiliation Leggett & Platt
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1973
Former Names
Heartland Lions Eye Banks
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Mission Statement We change lives by saving sight. Saving Sight strives to be the global partnership model for how eye banking and charitable vision services can most effectively serve people and communities. 
Background Statement
In 1960, the Missouri Lions joined forces with the University of Missouri-Columbia to form the Lions Eye Tissue Bank. The Lions provided financial support, and the University supplied equipment, laboratory space, and staff. This brought the "Gift of Sight" to Missouri by providing the means to donate eyes, evaluate and distribute the corneas for corneal transplant surgery, and utilize non-transplantable parts of donated eyes for research and medical education.
The 1970s laid the groundwork for what would eventually become Saving Sight. In 1972, The Eye Research Foundation of Missouri was formalized as a publicly owned, nonprofit organization. In that same year, the Board of Trustees of the Bethesda Eye Foundation (BEF) in Bethesda, MD agreed to name the Missouri Foundation as its successor and contributed $850,000 to the newly formed organization. By 1974, the Foundation began construction on its new facility in eastern Columbia, using the BEF resources, $250,000 contributed by the Missouri Lions, and six acres of land donated by Bryon and Gail Keene. The Foundation also added several programs during the 1970's, such as ocular research and glaucoma screenings.
At the 1987 State Convention, the Lions of Missouri voted to make the Foundation their State Sight Project, renaming it the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation.
In 1994, in collaboration with St. Louis Children’s Hospital, the Foundation piloted amblyopia screenings, and by 1999, the screenings grew state-wide as the Children’s Vision Screening program. Over the past 19 years, the program has screened more than 300,000 children in Missouri for amblyopia and other common childhood vision problems. On December 1, 2013, the program rebranded as KidSight.  And in 1997, the Foundation added eye banking operations in Kansas and central Illinois. This prompted the creation of Heartland Lions Eye Banks, which is now one of the largest eye banks in the U.S.
In 2013, the Board of Directors passed a motion to change the name of the organization to Saving Sight, effective December 1, 2013. Uniting the eye bank and charitable programs under a single brand identity was a key first step in implementing the organization's strategic plan. The Saving Sight organization has undergone many transformations over the past 53 years, and under the strategic plan it will undergo many more, but the mission remains the same: we change lives by saving sight.
Impact Statement

In the 2016-2017 fiscal year (July 1 to June 30), our vision health programs served more than 100,000 people worldwide, highlighted by our accomplishments: 


  • KidSight program received independent 501(c)3 status.  Both organizations began the process of separating the two entities.
  • Cornea Donation: we recovered, processed, and distributed donated corneal tissue for 2,904 transplant recipients and distributed 1,617 eye tissues for use in 35 research projects and 12 education and training initiatives. We collaborate with Donate Life Missouri and Donate Life Kansas to encourage people to sign up for eye, organ, and tissue donor registries.
  • Last year, we provided more than 30,000 recycled eyeglasses collected and prepared by Missouri Lions for international mission trips.

In 2017-2018, our goals include: 


  • Continue to work for KidSight's financial independence and long-term sustainability.
  • Provide tissue for as many corneal transplant surgeries as last fiscal year (3,063) and expand the types of tissues we process so surgeons can best meet the needs for their patients.
  • Increase products and services available to corneal surgeons and patients.
Needs Statement

KidSight became an independent 501c3 in 2016. Saving Sight asks you to donate to KidSight to support their sustainability.  To provide KidSight's screening services free of charge to young children, we must provide vision screening technicians’ salaries, benefits, travel, equipment, and supply expenses. KidSight's continued growth requires growth in financial support.

 Donate used glasses to go to the Eyeglass recycling program run in cooperation with Missouri Lions Clubs.  Contact your local club for drop off sites. 
Service Categories
Organ & Tissue Banks
Eye Diseases, Blindness & Vision Impairment
Areas of Service
MO - Clay County
MO - Eastern Jackson Co
MO - Jackson County
MO - Jackson County Urban Core
MO - Liberty
MO - Platte County
MO - Ray County
MO - Cass County
Saving Sight provides eye banking services for parts of Kansas and Illinois and all of Missouri.
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement

We change lives by saving sight. Our work in cornea donation and transplantation brings renewed vision and independence to people who have lost the gift of sight to corneal blindness.  

The need for our services remains high.  Our biggest challenge in the upcoming years is finding the funding necessary to enhance and grow our programs to provide the quality vision services we are known for. To positively impact the lives of as many people as we possibly can, we welcome and appreciate your support for this important work.
Tony Bavuso
Chief Executive Officer
Saving Sight
Description Since 1960, Saving Sight has coordinated eye donation and the distribution of corneas for transplant. Today, we operate in Missouri, Kansas, and central Illinois, and we distribute corneas to transplant surgeons in those states, the rest of the U.S., and around the world to help people receive the precious gift of sight.
Program Budget $710,000,000.00
Category Health Care, General/Other Anatomical Gifts Provision
Population Served General/Unspecified, ,
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success In FY 2015-2016, Saving Sight distributed 2,904 corneas for transplant, and 1,617 eye tissues for use in 35 research projects and and 12 education and training initiatives to advance vision-related medical practice so the sight of more can be saved in the future.
Long-Term Success There will be enough corneas available for every person who needs one, in Missouri, Kansas and Illinois, and ultimately, the world. 
Program Success Monitored By Patient and doctor satisfaction surveys, internal data collection and evaluation.
Examples of Program Success

James enjoyed woodworking and watching NASCAR and NHRA drag races. “But above all, he was a man all about his family,” said his daughter Melissa. “He was the type of man that would give you the shirt off his back and do without so others didn’t have to.”

When James passed away suddenly at age 61, his family knew saying yes to eye donation was something he would have wanted. “The opportunity was presented to us just after my dad’s passing,” said Melissa. “Of course any decision in those moments is hard but, for us, it was a case of knowing my dad would have done it in a heartbeat because it was his way of helping someone.”

James’ legacy in helping others lives on through the gift of sight. Two individuals were able to have their sight restored through corneal transplants because he was an eye donor. For Melissa, it brings her comfort knowing her father was able to continue helping others even in death. “I feel like someone is seeing the world through my dad’s eyes and that gives me comfort to know he gave to someone that really needed his help in a way he probably never imagined,” said Melissa.

Description Eyeglass Recycling has been a signature project for Lions Clubs across the country for more than 70 years. Saving Sight supports the Lions in this cause by serving as a collection and distribution center for recycled eyeglasses, collecting approximately 60,000 pairs per year. In 2015, Saving Sight began partnering with ReSpectacle, too, which increased the number of gently used eyeglasses that are recycled by distributing them for free via ReSpectacle’s innovative online database and ordering system.
Program Budget $50,000.00
Category Health Care, General/Other Health Care, General/Other
Population Served General/Unspecified, ,
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success
In FY 2015-2016, Saving Sight distributed 64,760 recycled glasses to 18 humanitarian groups who saved sight throughout North America, Asia and Africa.
Through a partnership with nonprofit ReSpectacle, Saving Sight made 5,281 pairs of glasses available through the searchable online database and provided 1,506 pairs at no cost to people who might not have otherwise had access to glasses. 
Long-Term Success

For disadvantaged people, a pair of used eyeglasses can mean the difference between drowning in poverty and providing for their families. The World Health Organization estimates that 153 million people worldwide suffer from refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism), which can usually be corrected with glasses. With strong vision, children can do better in school, adults can return to the workforce, and everyone can better accomplish the tasks of daily life.

That’s why Saving Sight partners with Lions clubs, ReSpectacle, and humanitarian groups to collect used eyeglasses and recycle them by distributing them to people in need. Join us in Eyeglass Recycling so people can get the vision they need to lead healthy, independent lives.

Program Success Monitored By Monitoring eyeglass distribution.
Examples of Program Success

Mark and Ginger Thiesen are no strangers to Malawi, Africa and to missionary work. In August 2017, Mark and Ginger partnered with Saving Sight's Eyeglass Recycling Program to help connect underserved people in Malawi with access to corrective lenses. While there this summer, Mark and Ginger worked for two weeks in four different locations to distribute 100 pairs of glasses.

Mark and Ginger are members of the Hazel Dell Church of Christ in Vancouver, WA. Last year, they brought a team of 8 to Malawi to provide glasses to those who needed them. "This year it was just my wife Ginger and myself," said Mark. "We plan to go every year, if possible. I grew up in Malawi and later did full time missionary work there for nearly 8 years, so it was natural to go there again. Malawi is called 'The Warm Heart of Africa' for its friendliness, and the need is great there as it has recently been rated the poorest nation in the world."

Saving Sight provided Mark and Ginger with 600 total pairs of glasses, and they plan to distribute the remaining 500 pairs on their trip next year when they return to Malawi with a larger volunteer group. The Thiesens first learned about Saving Sight's mission to change lives by saving sight and the Eyeglass Recycling Program from a Malawian named Paul Nkhambule who had been in contact with the Missouri-based nonprofit.

"While there were other areas of ministry that we carried out on our trip, it was especially touching for me to see some of the older folks who had struggled with vision for years finally get some help through the glasses," said Mark. "Long lines formed and we could not help everyone, but we did find joy in seeing those whom we could help. As a Christian I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have the power of Jesus to restore sight to people. I can’t do that, but matching a vision impaired person with a pair of glasses that allows them to function again perhaps gives a small taste of the joy that would have given."

"Thank you for allowing us to partner with you (Saving Sight) in this ministry. Keep up the good work!"

Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Mr. Tony Bavuso
Term Start July 2013
Tony Bavuso brings 18 years of experience in organizational leadership and eye tissue banking, previously serving as Saving Sight’s chief operating officer. He served in a senior role to lead its cornea donation & transplantation division in pursuing new eye banking technologies and forging relationships with organizational partners.
Mr. Bavuso also serves as a member of Vision Share, a nonprofit consortium of eye banks, as well as the Eye Bank Association of America.
Co-CEO/Executive Director
Term Start 0
Compensation Last Year
Former CEOs
Dr. Ron Walkenbach Sept 1981 - July 2013
Paid Full-Time Staff 64
Paid Part-Time Staff 8
Volunteers 100
Paid Contractors 0
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Yes
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Yes
Management Succession Plan No
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Community Health Charities2015
External Assessment and Accreditations
Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance2015
Eye Bank Association of America2016
U.S. Food and Drug Administration2016
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the government? No
Board Chair
Board Chair PDG Stuart Payne
Company Affiliation Leggett & Platt
Term July 2016 to June 2019
Board Co-Chair
Board Co-Chair Lion Cassidy Obermark OD
Company Affiliation Dr. Obermark Eye Health Care
Term 0 to June 2018
Board Members
VCC Larry Boettcher
CC Joe Foster
Dr. Michael Korenfeld Comprehensive Eye Care Ltd.
Lion Allen Lohsandt Self-Employed Farmer/Wellington Lions
Lion Pat Martchink
PDG Sandy McCann Account Representative / Columbia Community Lions
Lion Dr. Cassidy Obermark Eye Health Care/Plaza Optical / Sikeston Lions
Lion Mike Oldelehr
PDG Stuart Payne Legget Platt/Carl Junction Lions
PDG John Reese Retired, St. Joseph Public School District / St. Joseph East Side Lions
Dr. Dan Schoenleber University of Missouri
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 11
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 9
Female 2
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 93%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 85%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 4
Standing Committees
Fiscal Year Start July 01, 2017
Fiscal Year End June 30, 2018
Projected Revenue $10,229,749
Projected Expenses $10,212,485
IRS Letter of Exemption
Foundation Comments
  • FYE 6/30/2016, 2015, 2014: Financial data reported using IRS Form 990.
  • Individual revenue line items include contributions from Lions Clubs, and may also include corporate revenue.
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201620152014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$0$0$0
Individual Contributions------
Investment Income, Net of Losses$655,909$292,713$178,314
Membership Dues$0$0$0
Special Events$0$0$0
Revenue In-Kind$0$0$0
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$7,363,971$6,621,838$7,050,595
Administration Expense$2,506,803$3,431,043$1,754,700
Fundraising Expense$197,160$156,173$166,366
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.020.941.08
Program Expense/Total Expenses73%65%79%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue28%38%15%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$8,223,371$8,411,914$9,124,544
Current Assets$2,142,378$1,650,128$8,135,172
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$812,695$665,693$581,851
Total Net Assets$7,410,676$7,746,221$8,542,693
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities2.642.4813.98
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountAnonymous $375,075The Missouri Foundation for Health $95,549 --
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountAnonymous $70,579Concord Village Lions $15,000 --
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountAnonymous $26,100Missouri Lions Multiple District 26 $10,420 --
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Dates 0 to Dec 2015
Amount Raised to Date $41,550.00 as of Oct 2015
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years No
Organization Name Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation dba Saving Sight
Address 10100 N. Ambassador Dr.
Suite 200
Kansas City, MO 641532313
Primary Phone (800) 753-2265
Contact Email pr@saving-sight.org
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Tony Bavuso
Board Chair PDG Stuart Payne
Board Chair Company Affiliation Leggett & Platt
Year of Incorporation 1973
Former Names
Heartland Lions Eye Banks